Welcome to Advance Physical Therapy, Inc. Newsletter
Hello 2016! Happy new year everyone! While many of us can look back and see that there were things we didn't complete in 2015, the great news is that 2016 can provide us with a renewed mindset to march into the new year with optimism and a positive attitude. It's difficult to avoid making the lists of "to dos," things to aspire to and goals to achieve. Whether we like to or not, we make resolutions, both big and small. It's a good thing!
Many of our patients ask us about how to establish work outs that they can progress safely and effectively. To start off the new year, we'd like to share with you some of our thoughts regarding fitness and working out. So whether this is one of your resolutions or maybe something you've been thinking about doing, here are some helpful tips.
From all of us at Advance Physical Therapy, Inc., have a happy and wonderful new year!
To Your Health,
Advance Physical Therapy, Inc.
Tips To Recover From A Workout
Proper recovery following a workout is as essential as the workout itself. Whether you are beginning to work out for the first time or are altering your regimen, proper recovery is crucial to sustaining a long-term workout plan.
Why It's Important:
During exercise, the body undergoes a controlled amount of stress. Tissues in our bodies need this stress in order to improve their function and your performance. In fact, when you exercise, your muscles actually undergo “micro-trauma” due to the imposed demand of your activity. Recovery is your chance to build yourself back up stronger than before; it is the link between short-term, immediate benefit and long-term, lasting outcome.
The following tips can help you attain maximum benefit from your workout and reduce the risk of developing an injury.
Stretching is an important part of recovery, but it rarely receives the time or attention it deserves. The purpose of stretching is to maintain the flexibility of tissues that are tight or stiff from an activity or prolonged position.
There are a variety of methods of stretching (using the hamstring muscle as an example):
- Static/Isolated Stretching: Static, or isolated stretching is holding a stretch position for a long period. (Example: A static hamstring stretch would be when you sit on the ground with one leg pointing outward and you simply reach for your toes and hold for at least 30 seconds.)
- Dynamic stretching: Dynamic stretching is using movement to combine muscle groups. (Example: A dynamic stretch for the hamstring would be walking toe touches, as you bend down and grab your toe with every step for 2 to 3 seconds.)
- Foam Rolling: Foam rolling is a type of self-mobilization and massage. (Example: To foam-roll the hamstring muscle, you will simply put a foam roller under your legs and let your weight rest on top so the foam roller will push out any knots in your hamstring.)
A very general rule for stretching is dynamic stretching before exercise, static stretching after exercise, and foam rolling throughout. Utilizing various stretching strategies will allow you to maintain and improve your mobility.
Refueling (Hydration and Nutrition)
Proper fueling before exercise is important to optimize performance, but nutrition for recovery from exercise is often overlooked. Our bodies rely upon a well-balanced array of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to aid in rebuilding the parts of our body that have been stressed during exercise. Refueling after a workout with a well-rounded set of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats will help your body reap the most benefit from your hard effort
Water is also absolutely essential to overall health. In particular, following exercise, proper hydration is key to replace the fluids that you have lost during your activity. Water also helps regulate your temperature, maintain healthy joints, and eliminate wastes that build up in your system during activity. Pay special attention to your total water intake if you are exercising in extreme hot or cold climates or if you feel as though you may be getting sick. Make a habit of keeping a water bottle in your purse, gym bag, car, or workplace for easy, reliable access.
RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. If you find yourself having pain or swelling following exercise, particularly in a joint like your knee, ankle, or shoulder, you may consider using this four-part strategy to decrease inflammation and pain. If you continue to have symptoms several days following a workout, it may be important to seek the advice of a healthcare provider to further examine your complaints..
(See "The Difference between Soreness & Pain During Exercise" for more detailed information.)
Listen to Your Body
The only person who knows how your body feels after a workout is you. Allow yourself to listen to your body, and appropriately. This includes recognizing the signs of fatigue, pain or soreness and increasing recovery time between exercise bouts. This may also mean pushing yourself to work harder when you feel well. Don’t succumb to peer pressure at the gym. Trust yourself and what your body is telling you. When you are starting a new exercise program, don’t be afraid to ask your physical therapist for helpful hints on how your body may give you feedback after exercise, and how you should respond to that information.
Even if you love to run, your body may not like you running seven days a week. No matter what your exercise of choice may be (walking, running, swimming, cycling, weightlifting, yoga, recreational sports, etc.), you may considercan benefit from finding another form of exercise.
Cross training doesn't require a special shoe. It’s simply about challenging your body with different tasks so that certain tissues are not over-stressed, which often leads to overuse injuries. For example, a swimmer will benefit from strength training in addition to the hours spent in the pool in order to build different muscle groups and allow momentary rest for those that are used repetitively in the pool. Remember to do the exercises your body needs, not just the exercises you want to do. A physical therapist can help you determine where you have deficiencies or might be at risk for overuse injuries based on your workout regimen.
When life is busy, it’s hard to schedule enough time in your day to workout at all, let alone take care of yourself afterward. Try to plan your day or week so you have adequate time following each workout to implement the strategies above. This way you won't feel as rushed and cut out important recovery activities.
Often taken for granted, sleep is your body’s prime opportunity to recover.
When the body is at rest, the repair of our muscular, cardiovascular, skeletal, and immune systems can go to work. The CDC recommends that, in general, teens have 9-10 hours and adults 7-8 hours of sleep each day. These guidelines are especially important if you are demanding more of your body through regular exercise or stressful daily activities.
To get the most out of your shut-eye, strive for consistent bedtimes, avoid stimulating activities in bed (like TV and electronic devices), and a comfortable environment. You may find that you sleep better on days that you exercise, and will definitely notice a more effective, pleasant exercise experience if you are giving your body the rest it needs and deserves.
Fortunately, not only is your physical therapist trained to design an individualized exercise program for you, but she will also provide guidelines and strategies to ensure that you recover in the most effective way.
Common Fitness Mistakes
You take the time to pack and drive to the gym, you may as well make your workout count, right? The following points describe some very common fitness mistakes.
- Poor posture on the equipment. One of the reasons people work out is to improve their posture, so why practice poor position on the equipment? This is most obvious on some of the cardio equipment. For instance, it is common to see people gripping the side rails of the step mill or stair master, and locking out their elbows. The result is hunched shoulders and needless strain in the wrist and elbow. These are machines that are designed to work the legs, so let the legs do the work! If you have to brace that strongly, then the workload is too high. The side rails are for balance assistance only.
- Reading on the cardio equipment. Chances are, if you are catching up on your reading, you are probably not working hard enough. If you find it too hard to put down, then try short intervals without reading.
- Only doing cardio work. Many people, when forced to choose, due to time constraints will default to their cardio workout. After age 30, we begin to lose muscle mass. Cardio is not the best exercise to help maintain it. If pressed for time, try to perform a whole body resistance exercise, like a squat ending in an overhead press with dumbbells. Not only is it possible to get a cardio workout from whole body exercises, but you will do more to maintain your muscle mass as well.
- Not focusing on the muscle. If you’re performing a lat pulldown, for example, connect with your latissimus dorsi. Although other muscle groups are engaged, like the biceps, visualize the main muscle you are targeting with the exercise. Slow down, go slower on the return motion, and “feel the burn” in your mid back and shoulder blades.
- Doing too much exercise. It is common to set unrealistic time and effort expectations. People are well advised to start slowly, build up the workout time (duration) first, then increase the intensity gradually. You will decrease risk of injury as well as risk of losing motivation and dropping out!
- Stretching at the wrong time. Some of us are old enough to remember when stretching was done with quick, bouncing movements. Then, that changed to slow, static stretches performed before activity begins. Now, we are informed that pre-activity stretches may actually increase our risk of injury, and instead we should work on our flexibility after our workout, when the muscles are warm and more extensible.
If you have any questions about your gym routine, give us a call. Our therapists are happy to advise you and possibly dispel a myth or two!
How to Avoid Overtraining Injuries
Overtraining is a concern for all people pursuing fitness – from recreational or elite athletes topeople who exercise to lose weight and stay in shape. Overtraining injuries are musculoskeletal injuries that occur due to more activity or exercise than your body is used to, and may happen to anyone who increases intensity or changes type of activity. Overtraining syndrome includes overtraining injuries, but also encompasses general fatigue and other symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms
If you experience any of the following after working hard to meet advanced fitness goals, overtraining may be a cause.
- Physiological: increased resting heart rate, increased blood pressure
- Physical: decreased appetite, upset stomach, insatiable thirst, sleep disturbances, increased frequency of sickness and infections, general feeling of increased difficulty and fatigue throughout the day, abnormal muscle soreness, pain occurs that is different than typical muscle soreness
- Behavioral: personality changes, decreased motivation, altered concentration, lowered self-esteem, decreased ability to cope with stress
- Performance: Increased heart rate during activity, decreased strength or endurance, impaired movement and coordination, multiple technical errors.
Avoiding Overtraining Injuries
No matter the activity (running, swimming, weight lifting, etc), when working to improve your fitness you need to push yourself in order to see results. But pushing yourself too hard can result in injuries that are detrimental to your fitness goals. Here are some tips to avoid overtraining injuries:
Don't increase exercise difficulty level too quickly. Exercise needs to be progressed steadily at a gradual pace. Following a structured plan that increases your activity incrementally and safely can help you stay healthy and pain free. For example:
- For running, increasing difficulty may include increasing speed, running up or downhill, increasing duration, and use of intervals, where you alternate intensity over time.
- For resistance training, increasing difficulty may include increased weight, repetitions, sets, and decreasing the amount of time to perform the same amount of exercise.
Pay attention to your body. Your body is smart. If it feels like you are developing signs of overtraining, then take a break, lessen your activity, or rest.
Ease into it. Particularly if you are new to fitness or altering your exercise activities, take it slow. Don't expect to make up for several months of inactivity with a few weeks of exercise. Aim for long-term consistency, not overnight success. People who try to do too much too soon often end up injured or frustrated and give up on their fitness goals altogether.
Avoiding Overtraining Syndrome
Overtraining syndrome occurs when an active individual or athlete increases activity faster than the body can adapt or is unable to recover from a sustained high level of activity. Your body then lets you know that you've done too much too fast through a variety of physical responses.
There are several signs and symptoms that may indicate overtraining syndrome but are also symptoms of other problems
Every active individual is unique. Your pain may be due to overtraining, but it also may be due to other health issues. For example, heart rate changes, general fatigue, and other systemic symptoms may be due to a more concerning condition. Physical therapists are educated to evaluate and treat a variety of conditions. If you have any of the above signs a physical therapist can help to determine the seriousness of the signs and what your next course of action for your health.
Here are some tips to avoid overtraining syndrome:
Take a break. If you have a scheduled rest day in your plan, use it, you've earned it! Your bones, joints, and muscles need rest days to stay healthy.
Get rest. Recent studies are supporting the important role of sleep in the health of active people and athletes. This is when our bodies' build and repair and our immune system recovers.
Eat well. Proper nutrition is essential to the health of your body. Do not severely restrict calories when exercising. Make sure to eat proper nutrients, including plenty of lean meats, fruits and vegetables.
If you have questions about optimizing your performance and minimizing your risk for injuries, please let our rehab specialists know. We're ready to get you started in the new year!